Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Beattle Mash--The Liverpool Kids (Palace 777; 1964)

Is this the worst of the budget label Beatles knock-offs?  Sure seems to be, but since I haven't heard them all, I can't really say for certain.  Meet the three Liverpool Kids, all of whom appear to be pushing 40.  (Maybe it's the lighting.)  Beattle Mash, says the cover--with two t's.  Maybe the Palace and Masterseal labels (this also came out on Masterseal) were simply being clever.  But, wait--on the label, the title becomes Beatle Mash, and the Liverpool Kids become... the Schoolboys.  Was the staff asleep when it put this one out?

It gets weirder.  I quote this sentence fragment from the liner notes: "THE LIVERPOOL MOPTOPS--these four young men, who with a group of excellent musicians, have adopted the style of BEATLING, the hottest craze in show business on either side of the Atlantic."  The notes promise that the Liverpool Moptops "will give you the great pleasure you are looking for."  So, if you've been looking for great pleasure, you've found it right here.

So, our group is the four-guy trio called THE LIVERPOOL MOPTOPS, and not the Schoolboys, and not the Liverpool Kids.  And their specialty is "BEATLING."  So, why are most of the tracks Twist numbers?  I'll answer that soon.

But let's start with the two numbers which make this trash classic a classic--they are 1) a pretty decent fake version of She Loves You, and 2) a blatant plagiarism of I Want to Hold Your Hand, called Why Don't You Set Me Free (the chorus lyrics being, "Why don't you let me go?"). Which could be retitled Why Did They Not Get Sued?  Absolutely priceless.  My guess is that the Beatles and Brian Epstein weren't going to halt their wildly successful concert and record gigs and go after a track on a label so indifferent to product quality that it couldn't get either its LP title or fake group name straight.  As if they'd know or care about this Franken-collection.  Anyway, these first two tracks are gems, at least to fake-hit fanatics like me.

And a little checking revealed that all or most of the rest are retitled Twist numbers from three LPs issued on this label (and Masterseal) and credited to Bobby Dunn with Les Cooper and His Twisters.  The old reuse-and-retitle strategy.  So, Japanese Beatles is also The Latin Twist, from an earlier Palace/Masterseal LP, a Twist collection very imaginatively titled, TwistPea Jacket Hop is The Chinese Twist (huh??).  Lookout for Charlie is Twisting on the Hill, while I'm Lost Without You is Shimmy, Baby, and Thrill Me Baby is What a Thrill.  All from Twist.  Dunn and Cooper probably never imagined that, shortly down the road, they'd become a four-man "BEATLING" trio called THE LIVERPOOL MOPTOPS.  Or the Schoolboys.  Or the Liverpool Kids.

There may be a worse Beatles knock-off cheapie out there, but none as absurd.  Then again, you can't underestimate these outfits too much....

DOWNLOAD--Beattle Mash--The Liverpool Kids

She Loves You
Why Don't You Set Me Free
Let Me Tell You
Take a Chance
Swinging Papa
Thrill Me Baby
I'm Lost Without You
You Are the One
Pea Jacket Hop
Japanese Beatles
Lookout for Charlie

Beattle (or Beatle) Mash--The Liverpool Kids, or the Schoolboys, or the Liverpool Moptops (Palace 777; 1964)


Monday, April 27, 2020

Another 78 break (No cracks, please)--1904-1939

With this batch of shellac (sixteen sides!), I was testing my new after-market 78 stylus for my Stanton 500 cartridge.  Now, I could have gotten a custom-made stylus for more than four times the cost, but I can't see paying half the price of a turntable for a needle, so....  At any rate, since Stanton's no longer making the stylus, after-market is the only option.  So....

Not too pricey, and it performs well.  But I had to get used to its lower-end punch, so I ended up doing some of these tracks twice.  Or thrice, in one instance.  (Thrice in one instance.  Hm....  Does that add up?)  Anyway, some interesting sides today.  A number of these were "problem" 78s, which simply means they were not in the best of shape.  More "knackered" than usual.  (I'm having Scotland flashbacks....)  So I did a lot of splicing out of bumps, thumps, and big clicks.  Just my job, ma'am.  Yup.  Been doin' it since I was a pup.

Form 1939, two sides that border on high fidelity--both of them Albert Ketelbey standards: In a Monastery Garden and In a Persian Market.  I swapped my original playing order, because, when placed after Persian Market, Monastery Garden simply sounds like a continuation of the other piece.  It helps to have a contrast in tempo, dynamics, or other essential details when you're featuring two mood pieces in a row.  Or, descriptive pieces.  Whatever.  "Light concert works" will do it.  Some distortion during the middle-theme crescendo on Market, which could have been the result of a mistracking gramophone tonearm way back when--or a worn needle.  We'll never know.  1923's Applesauce, performed by the Columbians, is a delightful dance number, and I managed to mask some high-freq distortion without muffling things.  Then, Joseph C. Smith's first sides--1916's amazing Money Blues, composed by arranger Hugo Frey (amazing in the way it anticipates the Whiteman sound), and the bouncy one-step I've Got a Shooting Box In Scotland (1917), composed by Cole Porter.  Arabian Nights is back--this time, by Joseph Knecht's Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra, and the sound is very Joseph C. Smith.  Especially for not being Smith.

Next, two by the Dixie Daisies, and they're classic early '20s dance, the second side an especially jazzy one. On the same label (Cameo), the "Dixie Daisies" served as a pseudonym for bandleaders like Fred Rich, Irving Mills, and Adrian Schubert.  Most of those sides also came out on the Lincoln and Romeo labels.  Now you know.  And... we have the Brox Sisters trio, with Arthur Johnson on piano, singing Irving Berlin's Lazy and a number I remember from my young days, Cover Me up with the Sunshine of Virginia, though I seem to recall it was by a ukulele player.

And we have Irving Berlin's wonderful Alice In Wonderland, coupled with Poor Butterfly.  The latter became a standard, but I think the Berlin song is better.  (Not that anyone asked me.)  On the former, "Anna Howard" sings with Harry MacDonough.  Anna Howard is actually Lucy Isabelle Marsh.  Butterfly is sung by "Edna Brown," who is actually Elsie Baker.  Now the weird fact--the Canadian edition of this 78 used Lucy Isabelle Marsh's pseudonym ("Anna Howard") for Poor Butterfly, and I'm sure it was done just to confuse collectors 104 years later.  Very sneaky.  Anyway, priceless vocal sides, and forgive the opening surface noise on the gorgeous Alice in Wonderland.

Band Espanola gives us the "Cake Walk and Two-step" Berta, and it's a very raggy number.  At the Discography of American Historical Recordings, a range of recording years is given for this one--1905-1907.  That must mean the band periodically returned to the studio to redo the side.  So it must have been a big seller.  1904's Cocoanut Dance may (or may not) have been transferred to disc from cylinder--there is a cylinder recording of the number by the same artist in the same year--but it's also possible the cylinder and disc recordings were made concurrently.  Well, not at exactly the same time, unless banjoist Vess L. Ossman was able to bi-locate.

Then, two weird 1920 Ted Lewis sides--the Ted Lewis Jazz Band, no less.  Fair One, a hit song by Lewis and George Mallen, comes first, and it frankly sounds like something dying.  That's my best description of the side.  It has a Dixieland sound, but it's all treble and mid-range--either 1/3 of the band missed the gig, or the engineer screwed up.  The saxophone work is awful, and I suspect it's Ted Lewis on alto sax--the pointless flourishes and the ascending chromatic runs sound like Ted's notion of clarinet playing transferred to the sax.  I'm almost certain Ted is playing the clarinet at the start, then making a quick switch.  His tone is dreadful, and it distracts from the fairly interesting stuff going on behind him.  The sax is less destructive on Gypsy Moon, on which Lewis mostly plays fill-in phrases when he's not stating the melody.  The total effect is still weird, but not as.

The shellac awaits you.

DOWNLOAD: Another 78 break

In a Monastery Garden (Ketelbey)--Columbia Salon Orch., Dir. Mortimer Palitz (Columbia 36234; 1939)
In a Persian Garden (Ketelbey)--Same
Applesauce (Lyman-Arheim-Freed)--The Columbians--Dance Orchestra Deluxe (Columbia A3853; 1923)
Money Blues (Hugo Frey)--Joseph C. Smith and His Orchestra (Victor 18165; 1916)
I've Got a Shooting Box in Scotland (Cole Porter)--Same, 1917
Arabian Nights (M. David-Wm. Hewitt)--Joseph Knecht's Waldorf-Astoria Orch. (Victor 18536; 1918)
Lovin' Sam (The Sheik of Alabam') (Milton Ager)--Dixie Daisies (Cameo 291; 1922)
What More Do You Want? (Isham Jones)--Same
Lazy (Irving Berlin)--The Brox Sisters, Piano Acc. by Arthur Johnston (Victor 19298; 1924)
Cover Me Up with the Sunshine of Virginia (Young-Lewis-Meyer)--Same
Alice in Wonderland (Irving Berlin)--Anna Howard (Lucy Isabelle Marsh)-Harry MacDonough (Victor 18211; 1916)
Poor Butterfly (Golden-Hubbell)--Edna Brown (Elsie Baker)--Same
Berta (Cake Walk and Two-step)--Band Espanola (Columbia Record 5663; 1905-1907)
Cocoanut Dance--Moreau Characteristic--Vess L. Ossman, Banjo Solo w. Orchestra Acc. (Columbia Disc Record No. 1705 (1904)
Fair One (Ted Lewis-George Mallen)--Ted Lewis Jazz Band (Columbia A2998; 1920)
Gypsy Moon (Ed Moebus)--Same


Monday, April 20, 2020

78 break--Original Dixieland Jass Band, Anna Wheaton, Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band, Harry Raderman

I think we all need a 78 break.  Of course, "break" and "78" in the same sentence seems like bad luck.  I will say, and I think it's true (not positive), that I have only broken four 78s by accident over my collecting career.  At times, I've busted them on purpose, but I very rarely break them by accident.  And I've had a few that gave up the ghost in storage.  You pull them out of the rows, and they're cracked.  I've been told that, in these cases, a hairline crack was already present--and just itching to become a complete split.

Anyway, I did not know until just now that Harry Raderman was born in Odessa, Russia, where he did not star as an extra in Potemkin.  Wow, what's next?  Irving Berlin coming from Siberia?  Anyway, Harry Radernan was the laughing trombone on Joseph C. Smith's (in my opinion) wonderful recording of W.C. Handy's Yellow Dog Blues.  And it looks like he played in Earl Fuller's jazz band, so we've get Raderman times three today--twice, with Fuller, and once as leader of his own jazz orchestra.  The Fuller jazz sides aren't as bad, jazz-wise, as I'd remembered, and they're catchy and fun, with Coon Band Contest (such attitudes were front and center back then) pretty close to actual jazz.  The players are very good, save for Ted Lewis and his awful clarinet, and the drumming (Fuller, I assume) is captured marvelously well by Victor's recording horn.  Raderman's Make That Trombone Laugh is jazz in the complex, carefully planned Paul Whiteman manner.

The 1917 Columbia Original Dixieland Jass Band sides were long thought to predate the group's Victor recordings--collectors assumed that Columbia, following the ODJB's success on Victor, had released its two rejected sides by the group.  No such luck.  These are from May, 1917.  The Victor sides go back to February. These have a loose quality I really like.  And the warm Columbia sound suits them better than the colder, more clinical Victor fidelity.  Cold fidelity.  Did I just make up a term?  Superb sides.

And the two W.C. Handy recordings, also from 1917, feature virtuoso playing and boundless energy and not the best fidelity--the weak treble is a feature of the recording, I think, not over-filtering on my part.  (So he says.)  Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag is a blatant rip-off of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, but the arrangement is fascinating in its ragtime/jazz synthesis.  Styles merge all the time in popular music, but, despite the inane (and widespread) notion to the contrary, the merging of styles is not the thing that powers musical evolution.  It's not a sustainable model, for one thing.  If any given style is a matter of two styles joining together, then we get into infinite regression pretty quickly.  But it's cool to find records that straddle the stylistic fence to the extent this one does, and what in the heck did I just type?  I used to think jazz came right out of ragtime--until I realized that "right out of" doesn't make much sense as a concept.  It's always wisest to think of evolution in terms of change, because that's what evolution is.  Mutation over time makes more sense than A+B=C, and again because of infinite regression.  So there.  Where the heck was I?

Oh, yeah--Anna Wheaton.  A "musical theatre actress and singer of the early 20th century"--Wikipedia.  I'd Like to Be a Monkey in the Zoo (1917, again) holds up as fairly amusing 103 years later, so she had to be talented.  My copy is far from mint, but my wider needle made most of the lyrics possible to make out.  I'm not that much into vaudeville, but the occasional example is fun.  And we get two helpings of the superb band led by Charles Adams Prince, and two sides by Harold Veo's Orchestra (1917!!  What's with that year?), which are quite jazz-influenced.  The Zoo Step almost sounds like slowed-down Dixieland.


UPDATE: And I screwed up the track order.  The zip is now fixed. Sorry!

DOWNLOAD--78 Break

Indiana--One-step (Hanley)--Original Dixieland Jass Band (Columbia A2297; 1917)

Darktown Strutters' Ball (Brooks)--Same
Li'l' Liza Jane--One-step--Earl Fuller's Famous Jazz Band (Victor 18394; 1917)
Coon Band Contest (Pryor)--Same
Fuzzy Wuzzy Rag--One-step (Morton)--Handy's Orchestra (Columbia A2421; 1917)
The Snaky Blues (Nash)--Same
"The Zoo Step"--One-step (Clarence Wilson)--Harold Veo's Orchestra (Victor 18372; 1917)
Don't Leave Me Daddy (J.M. Verges)--Same
Make That Trombone Laugh (Henry Scharf)--Harry Raderman's Jazz Orch. (Okeh 4089; 2930)
Black Diamond Rag (Henry Lodge)--Prince's Band (Columbia A1140; 1912)
Another Rag--A Raggy Rag (Theodore Morse)--Prince's Badn (Columbia A1292; 1913)
I'd Love to Be a Monkey in the Zoo (White)--Anna Wheaton, Soprano (Columbia A2384; 1917)

                                                                                                                Anna Wheaton

Friday, April 17, 2020

From Britain with Beat; That English Sound--More bad fakes from Modern Sound (Hit Records)!!

When are British Invasion comps not British Invasion comps?  When they're fake, of course.  And I have two fake-hit British Invasion comps today, the first--From Britain with Beat--blessed with one of the most hilarious covers in the history of long-playing records.  The wig maker obviously took "mop top" far too literally--I think these guys would have been sent home on Halloween.  Or maybe the label was making fun of the British groups.  There's no way to be sure.

At any rate, from the liner notes: "In this album we have tried to recapture the original sounds of some of the hit songs that have made this very exciting new trend {"The English Sound" or "The British Beat"} possible."  That accounts for seven of the ten tracks--the remaining three are filler numbers written by label personnel.  The rest are well-known Invasion numbers--three originally from the Beatles, one from the Rolling Stones, one from Herman's Hermits, one from Manfred Mann, and the other from the Nashville Teens (of Nashville, England?  Yuk, yuk).  Tobacco Road was written by John D. Loudermilk, whose own 1960 version was slower and quieter but not all that different from either the Teens' rendition or this cover of a cover.  I love covers of covers.  Or, to be more precise, fakes of covers.  Only my analyst knows why.

The filler numbers are: 1) Broken Hearted, Sad and Blue, by producer William Beasley's wife Dorothy, under the pseudonym "J. Norris;" 2) Come on On, written by Bobby Wilson (Bobby Russell, perhaps?);  and I'm So Lonely, which appears not to have come out in single form, which leaves me without access to composer credits.  But it's clearly a product of this outfit.  Of the three extra tracks, the last two possess a halfway British-Invasion sound, which may have merely been an accident.  Broken Hearted is making its second appearance at this blog, since this label, like all cheapo operations, re-reused tracks like crazy.

Keeping with the norm, the LP gives no performer credits, though of course all tracks (but one) came out as Hit Records 45s.  I saw no point in tracking those down on line (be my guest--45cat and Discogs should have them all), except where I needed songwriter credits.  I will say that Sha La La was credited to "The Beasts" on 45, because I find that credit hilarious.  And Ed Hardin received the blame for performing Broken Hearted....

It's possible that, after observing people fall to the drugstore carpet laughing at the From Britain... jacket, someone at MS/Hit Records decided, "No more photo covers."  Except they did do some more, with most of them pretty tacky, though none as hilarious as From Britain....  But in the case of our second LP, That English Sound, (a thrift gift from Diane--thanks, Diane!), the label wisely opted for a drawn cover that isn't all that bad--unless it was an attempt to caricature the Beatles, in which case... dear God.

The English Sound promises "the best of the hit songs that have been responsible for the continued popularity of 'The English Sound.'"  From the fill-space-with-words school of jacket notes.  Yes, hit titles, plus (you'll never guess) four filler tracks by Hit Records employees Bergen White (You Make the Decisions, Just Give Me Time, Bless You Little Girl) and Bobby (Little Green Apples) Russell (Where Were You).  The blah You Make the Decisions showed up earlier at this blog on another Modern Sound LP (Modern Sound 1012),  so you're not hearing double.  The filler efforts sound out of place here, though Just Give Me Time (not to be confused with the garage band number by The "In") is a nice song with nice harmonies--too bad about the sub-Brian Wilson falsetto.  The remaining six tracks are genuine Invasion numbers, all but one of which I remember first-hand, with four originally by the Beatles--Day Tripper being this (or maybe any) label's all-time worst Beatles fake.  Listen to the singers hit every note but the right ones during the vocal harmony break.  Classic!  As Tears Go By was never my favorite Rolling Stones song, and it's pretty badly done here (the singer is the weak link), and Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter is one of a handful of Invasion hits that I can't stand--I absolutely can't see the appeal of the thing.  Based on what I've read, Herman's Hermits were amazed to see the single hit No. 1 in the U.S., so maybe they weren't the biggest fans, either.  To me at least, the low quality of this cover is beside the point--it's kind of fitting, though the bad attempt at a British accent is pretty entertaining.  By contrast, Help! is a pleasant surprise--it's not all that bad a forgery, and it can't be an easy number to cover.  Plus, Hit Records generally did a terrible job covering the Fab Four, so I have to give it a B+, or even an A- (in context).  We Can Work It Out could have been worse, as could have Yesterday (a song I love), though by how much, I'm not sure.  By fake-hits standards (whatever those are), these two efforts are merely moderately bad.  Which makes them pretty good.  Not sure what my logic is there, or if I used any, but... to the fun fakes!  Even when this outfit's material sucked, it sucked with enthusiasm.  Buyers always got their (lack of) money's worth.

I have easy access to the Hit Records 45 rpm artist credits, so need to relay them, unless you want to.

Rendered in two zip files....

DOWNLOAD: From Britain with Beat---That English Sound


I Want to Hold Your Hand
Tobacco Road
Can't Buy Me Love
I'm Henry the VIII, I Am
Eight Days a Week
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Sha La La
Broken Hearted, Sad and Blue (J. Norris, aka Dorothy J. Beasley)
Come on On (Bobby Wilson)
I'm So Lonely (Unknown)


We Can Work It Out
As Tears Go By
Where Were You (Bobby Russell)
You Make the Decision (Bergen White)
Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter
Day Tripper
Just Give Me Time (Bergen White)
Bless You Little Girl (Bergen White)

Modern Sound 544; Modern Sound 552--No artists credited


Friday, April 10, 2020

Easter and some late Good Friday shellac!

Some late Good Friday and pre-Easter Easter selections, starting with Emma L. Ashford's famous choral work, Lift Up Your Heads, which ends with a dose of All Hail the Power the Power of Jesus' Name. Wish I had a copy of the words to post, but you can download a choral copy on line if you wish.  Technically, it's an Ascension number, but it's used on Easter, so here it is.  The all-time gospel Easter song (along with He Lives, aka I Serve a Risen Savior) is here in a version I haven't posted before--Christ Arose, this time by the Collegiate Choir on Brunswick, 1920.

The mainline-hymnal all-time classic, Christ the Lord Is Risen To-day, is sung (beautifully) by Louise Homer.

We get three helpings of the ultra-down home Southern quartet Smith's Sacred Singers, two Homer Rodeheavers, and two Trinity Choir selections.  Profoundly distinguished Fanny Crosby lyrics in the classic Tell Me the Story of Jesus, and a superb text for Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb.  I'm just now appreciating the ingeniousness of the latter's words.

I'd meant to get this up earlier, but what are plans in the scheme of things?  Enjoy!  More Easter sounds to come.

DOWNLOAD: Easter and late Good Friday

Lift up Your Heads (Emma L. Asford)--Columbia A1713 (1915)
Old Rugged Cross (George Bennard)--Arthur Cornwall and William Cleary, 1930
Christ the Lord Is Risen To-day (C. Wesley)--Louise Homer, Contralto, 1922
Christ Arose (Lowry)--Collegiate Choir, 1920
Jesus Died for Me--Smith's Sacred Singers,1929
He Bore It All (Baxter Jr.-Stamps)--Same, 1927
Love Led Him to Calvary (Webster-Gabriel)--Mrs. William Asher-Homer Rodeheaver, 1925
Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb (Elisha A. Hoffman)--Smith's Sacred Singers, 1929
Tell Me the Story of Jesus (Fanny J. Crosby--Jno. R. Sweney)--Homer Rodeheaver, 1920
Calvary (Darwood-Sweney)--Trinity Choir, 1913
Jesus Lives!  (Gellert-Cox-Gauntlett)--Same, 1922


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Relax to shellac--Peerless Quartet, Al Bernard, Al Lentz, Waring's Pennsylvanians

Can you imagine a 1920s pop song called If You Can't Tell the World She's a Good Little Girl Just Say Nothing at All?  Well, you don't have to--it's in today's playlist.  And if you've always wanted to see Oh, Baby! (Don't Say No, Say Maybe) in Spanish, here you go:

One to scratch off your bucket list.  Fourteen 78s, some of them in semi-dreadful condition, others in decent or better, and all a delight.  I hadn't planned on including four numbers by the brilliant American songwriter Walter Donaldson, but that's how it turned out.  We get the above Donaldson title, plus Sam, the Old Accordion Man; My Mammy; and That's Why I Love You, the last with lyrics by Paul Ash.  What was Paul thinking when he penned the following?  "And I'm in love.  That's why I love you; I do."  Why do I love you?  Because I'm in love!  Obviously.

Not to rile Gershwin fans (and I love Gershwin), but I sometimes think Donaldson was our best-ever songwriter.  His range was incredible--from My Mammy to Love Me or Leave Me.  And, though the former number is associated with blackface and a "first talkie" that wasn't the first talkie, it makes an ideal quartet number, as demonstrated by the Peerless Quartet.  Donaldson didn't invent the circle of fourths, but few songwriters have made better use of it.  ("Mammy.  Mammy.  My heart strings are tangled around Alabamy.")  In fact, it was this very recording that made me realize what an exceptional tune this is.  And we get Fred Van Eps on banjo.  This is why I never bother with modern pop.

And Sam, the Accordion Man is like the poster child for a "hot" dance song.  I bought the disc for its flip, because I just had to have a side called If You Can't Tell the World She's a Good Little Girl Just Say Nothing at All.  But Sam erases all memory of... whatever title I just typed.

Wikipedia tells us that Al Bernard, who gives us the Bert Williams-esque Bell Hop Blues and You Know What I Mean (1919), was a vaudeville entertainer, which I could have guessed in my sleep, but I did not know he was called "The Boy from Dixie."  Here's the Bernard background.  Not to insult Al, but in the Wiki photo, he looks like the demon brother of Fred Astaire.

The oh-so-slightly racist Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield is still a Barbershop standard, far as I know.  I have the music in a fairly new collection, anyway.  The Imperial Quartet is superb, of course, but some may find the side hard to handle.  I would have thought the quartet folks would have dumped the number at the first opportunity, but what do I know?  But given its classic Barbershop status, dumping it would be like revising history.  It would be like TCM not showing Birth of a Nation (which would be fine with me).  I mostly slept through that one in a film class, but I saw enough of it to go, "Dear God."  Then I discovered BOAN was, for many decades, the standard revised history of the South following the Civil War.  Yikes.

The Victor Military Band is magnificent on the Slippery Place Rag by household name Phil M. Hacker.  I know I have the sheet music to this someplace, but it would take me till May to find it.  I'm sure it's all over Google Images.  Maybe.  I meant to look up the Musical Comedy Orchestra (on the junk-quality Harmony label) but forgot.  No time like right now.  Give me a moment.

Okay--pseudonym on Harmony for the Bar Harbor Society Orchestra.  Thank you, Brian Rust.  Extremely nice sides, but someone played them with a nail or maybe a box cutter, so I had some restoring to do.  But nothing like the work required to rescue tenor Buddy Gravelle's side on Romeo, a label that had no standard response curve, which meant I had to create one from scratch.  Then I had to deal with all the surface injuries.  This was part of a small set I just bought through the mail, and they all look five times better than they play.  Oh, and fabulous piano duet section on the Romeo disc.  Wonder who provided it?

Charles D'Almaine (first pic) was a violinist with the Metropolitan Orchestra.  He also dig jig medleys.  But, of course, we're not allowed to label him a country music pioneer, even though he's here, from 1907, playing jigs and reels associated with the music.  You see, accomplished musicians are never "pioneers."  Pioneers are people who can't read music and who learn their songs from Aunt Melba on the back porch.  Just so we're clear on that.

I invite you to... relax to the shellac.  (Oh.  I forgot the "the" when I titled this.)

DOWNLOAD: Relax to Shellac

My Mammy (Lewis-Young-Donaldson)--Peerless Quartet (Banjo--Fred Van Eps), 1921
Sam, the Old Accordion Man (W. Donaldson)--Al Lentz and His Orch., v: Al Lentz, 1927
Slippery Place Rag (Hacker)--Victor Military Band, 1915
Bell Hop Blues (Frank Goodman-Al. Piantadosi)--Al Bernard, 1919
You Know What I Mean (Alfred Dubin-Fred Rath)--Same
Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield--Imperial Quartet (Victor 17873; 1915)
Buddha--Dardanella (Pollack--Bernard and Black)--Columbia Saxophone Sextette, 1920
Oh, Baby! (Don't Say No, Say Maybe) (Donaldson)--Waring's Pennsylvanians, 1924
If You Can't Tell The World She's a Good Little Girl Just Say Nothing At All--Al Lentz and His Orch., v: Al Lentz, 1927
Do I Hear You Saying: "I Love You?" (Rodgers and Hart)--Musical Comedy Orch., v: Robert Wood, 1928
You Took Advantage of Me (Rodgers and Hart)--Same (Actually Bar Harbor Society Orch.)
Anything to Make You Happy (Valentine)--Joe Rines and His Orch., v: Joe Rines (Brunswick 3844; 1928)
That's Why I Love You (Donaldson-Ash)--Buddy Gravelle, Tenor Solo (Romeo 240; 1926)
Medley of Jigs and Reels--Charles D'Almaine, violin, w. Orchestra Acc. (1907)


Monday, April 06, 2020

Fuller, fully fixed

Sorry--that's the best wordplay I could manage on a moment's notice.  Here are the two Earl Fuller zips I featured in the post before last.  Unknown to me, the previous files contained the RIAA (LP) curve--I thought my saved template contained the inverse RIAA.  Not.

This time, I took the extra step of choosing my software's acoustical preset for the Victor label, and then activating the equalization page template I'd designed.  Complicated, but I'm guessing I can save much trouble by using the VS "Copy of..." function.  As in, after altering the Victor acoustical preset, simply save it as a copy.  This would make more sense if I had the relevant program pages up and I were doing a YouTube tutorial.  And I've always wanted to type "if I had the relevant program pages up."

These sound a lot better.  I've also updated the links on the original post.  Enjoy the fresher, crisper Earl Fuller!  And how often will I have the opportunity to type that?

DOWNLOAD: Earl Fuller, 1917-1921--Part One  Part Two

All Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., unless otherwise credited

Cold Turkey--One-step (Will Donaldson)

12th St. Rag (Bowman)
Pork and Beans (Luckey Roberts)
More Candy--One-step (Mel B. Kaufman)
Ida!  Sweet as Apple Cider (Eddie Munson)
One Fleeting Hour (John Stepan Zamecnik, as "Dorothy Lee") (12-inch)
While the Incense Is Burning (Walter Smith)--Earl Fuller's Orchestra
Castle Valse Classique (Dvorak, Arr. by Ford T. Dabney) (12-inch)
Smiles (Lee S. Roberts)
Graveyard Blues (Woods-Caldwell)
Sweet Emalina, My Gal --One-step (Creamer and Layton)
I Ain't Got Nobody Much (Graham-Williams)
Down Home Rag (Wilber C.S. Sweatman)
Mickey--Medley (Williams and Moret)
The Missouri Waltz (Lee Edgar Settle, Frederic Knight Logan, as "Knight, Logan and Eppel")
Here Comes America--Medley One-step (Jack Glogau)
Texas (David W. Guion) (12-inch)
Oriental--One-step (Vincent Rose) (12-inch)
Singapore--Medley (Gilbert and Friedland)
Out of the East--Oriental Fox Trot (Joe Rosey)
Sand Dunes--Oriental One-step (Byron Gay, Arr. Henri Klickermann)
Spaniola (Joe Rosey)
Egyptland (James. W. Casey)
Mummy Mine (Vincent Rose)
Ruspana--One-step (Robert A. King, as "Mary Earl")
Sweet Siamese (Robert A King, as "Mary Earl")
Ain't We Got Fun (Kahn-Egan-Whiting)--Earl Fuller's New York Orch. (Olympic 15116; 1921)
Just Because (Stevens-Frosini)--Same


Sunday, April 05, 2020

I'm redoing my Earl Fuller post

Greetings.  In a day or so, I'll be putting up brighter, better-sounding files to replace the Earl Fuller files I featured last post.  Those did not come out very well, imo.  Long story, but I had created and saved an equalization page template on the program I use to rip my vinyl and shellac--VinylStudio. Because I had modified a VS preset to create the template, I figured the preset's inverse RIAA curve would be saved along with my eq.  But it wasn't.  And so the files I gave you contained the RIAA (or LP) curve, which doesn't go well with most 78s--early ones, especially  I had wondered why I was getting such heavy audio and why it took so much work to coax brightness from the files--and now I know why.

The redone versions, so far, are sounding a lot better--lighter, brighter, but still boasting some needed low end.  So, tomorrow or Monday, I'll have the replacement files up and ready to download.  But if you have no problem with the files I put up, then no need to replace them, I guess.

There's no way I could have anticipated this problem--namely, that my saved template would not include all the features of the modified response curve--but I should have investigated matters before putting up the post, because things just weren't sounding right.

I find it odd that my modified and retitled preset only retains the revised equalization and not the inverse RIAA curve, and I guess I could ask the software makers (they're very good and quick at answering), but I'm not sure I could word it in a way that makes sense.

Sorry if this post was less than crystal clear.  Bottom line: new and improved Earl Fuller files are on the way!  Hooray!

Meanwhile, could somebody please tell my allergies to give me a break?  The record-breaking amounts of rain in these parts have things blooming much earlier than they normally would, so I'm suffering like it was late May.  And you don't want a stuffy head and body aches when a deadly virus is making its rounds....


Friday, April 03, 2020

Earl Fuller, 1917-1921--Cold Turkey, More Candy, Down Home Rag, Howdy, Singapore, Mummy Mine!

All but two of these tracks are not available on CD, so I'm making them available on blog.  So to speak.

The fun and fascinating Rector Novelty Orch. sides by Earl Fuller (1885-1947) make for a nice distraction from COVID-19 tension, to the extent that distraction from COVID-19 is possible.  The band recorded for Columbia from 1917 to 1919 (there's a great pic below), and it was apparently a totally separate unit from his "jazz" band, which recorded for Victor, and which gets all the attention (though few reissues).  His "jazz" sides don't do much for me, and they don't fit even my open-minded definition of jazz--they're like inept imitations of Dixieland, if you ask me.  Just a group of guys playing in different directions in a wild fashion.  Not uninteresting, but not jazz.  His often amazingly lively novelty sides, however, are of considerable jazz interest, in my view, and they're musically superb, in terms of incredibly solid playing.  Select examples, like Cold Turkey and Pork and Beans, even verge on weird.  Good-weird, I should note--innovatively weird. Of course, if you've never heard the earliest modern dance sides, such as these, then they all sound pretty weird, but Cold Turkey, in particular, sounds downright experimental no matter how many times I play it.  I'd love to have the words.  Of my six (!) copies, I chose the best-sounding copy.  I have no idea if Cold Turkey had the John Lennon meaning back in the late 1910s.

After working on these transfers for a week or more, I'm convinced the Columbia acoustical engineers weren't quite sure how to arrange these guys around the recording horn, because the equalizations vary quite a bit.  And pre-electric 78s did have eqs--emphases on different portions of the frequency range, which were often the result of placing one instrument or section closer to, or farther from, the horn.  And engineers must have had dampening methods--some ability to suppress a given portion of the frequency range.  Say, the bass.  The final selection in this playlist, from 1921 on the lesser-quality Olympic label, required a big boost in the rougly 1,000-2.000 Hz range to get any body in the sound.  I did much tweaking, and re-tweaking on all of these.

For some reason, I always assumed "Rector," as in "Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orchestra," referred to a hotel, but it was a New York City restaurant.  Now we know.  As far as I'm aware, only two of Fuller's Rector sides are commercially available (hm--I already said that, I notice), and a handful of his "jazz" sides.  It's the jazz sides that get the attention, because of the word "jazz."  But people have to get over this childishness of expecting early examples of a style to arrive with a label--common sense tells us that, in the early stages of a style, labels are evolving along with the music.  And many no-"jazz"-in-the-description dance sides from the period just before and after the 1920s are, in my opinion, jazz.  I refer to two or three sides by Harold Veo, many of Paul Whiteman's early efforts, select numbers by Frank Westphal, Jan Garber, the Benson Orchesstra, Gene Rodemich, and so on.  Arranged jazz is fine by me, and I think those seeking high degrees of formal improvisation in the earliest jazz efforts are practicing wishful thinking.  Formal improvisation isn't something that could have crawled otu of the woodwork--at the very least, a system had to evolve that allowed solo space.  When you've got nine or ten guys playing at the same time, there has to be a game plan.  Incredibly, some jazz fans continue to believe that jazz is and was something that just happened.  Guided by some higher hand, I guess.  I'm not an Intelligent Design believer, myself, so....

The Red Hot Jazz site, where I typically go to get info on dance and jazz band line-ups, seems to be down, maybe even dead.  And Brian Rust's American Dance Band Discography gives me the names of only two members of the Rector orch.--Bill Scotti on clarinet and alto sax, and, "during the latter part of this band's existence," the amazing Teddy Brown on xylophone and drums.  Meanwhile, Wikipedia indicates that Brown was featured on these sides as a rule, though it tells us the equally amazing George Hamilton Green, Jr. was also used "in this role."  I've discovered a reliable-seeming source which credits Green with the dizzying, swirling xylophone arpeggios that appear on the 1917 waltz recordings One Fleeting Hour and Castle Valse Classique--the latter a 3/4 version of Dvorak's Humoresque.  To say that Valse drags is quite an understatement, but we have to remember that this is modern dance music getting its start, back when the role of dance music was to accompany all the weird ballroom steps, slides, and spasms of the day.  At least come the 1910s, ballroom dancing was not the sedate, soporific affair presented in movies set in that period--too many of these selections are more uptempo and (for the dancers, certainly) acrobatic than we'd have thought. Or I'd have thought. Or someone would have.

And here is the background on Castle Valse Classique and its connection with Irene and Vernon Castle and Earl Fuller and George Hamilton Green--the source I mentioned.  I think we can assume it's George on the two 12" Columbia waltz sides.  I don't know if the quotation from Old Folks at Home is part of the original arrangement or something Fuller or his arranger stuck in.  Just picture people stop-gliding across a ballroom as you listen to Castle Valse, and just relax with that vision, and soon you will hear only my voice, and nothing but my voice, and then you will steal for me all the TP I command you to.

I'd been assuming for years that the personnel of Fuller's Ted Lewis-dominated jazz outfit was the same as on these, but it doesn't look that way.  This would explain why Lewis' sour clarinet tone is nowhere to be heard on the Rector sides (no knock on fellow Ohioan Lewis, whose corny style I dig), though busy drumming, similar to the percussion on the jazz sides, crops in and out.  In some cases, the percussion comes through loud and crisp--in others, more like mud behind the rest of the orchestra.  The equalizing challenge on these was to maintain a decent low end plus clarity in the "highs."  Not as easy as it may sound.

Apparently, Ted Lewis took off with Fuller's orchestra when a much better offer was given, and I'm guessing it was the jazz band that Lewis took with him, not the Rector band.  Again, I do find the Rector sides to be jazz--orchestrated jazz, but with a decent degree of looseness in the parts, with the xylophone free to roam where he wishes, though on some numbers, he clearly has a designated support or melody-doubling function.  There's a loose, semi-worked-out-on-paper sound to these sides, whether they were tightly arranged or no.  Less freedom to ad-lib than offered by Art Hickman, but enough to make things fascinating.

The strange Cold Turkey (too bad I don't have a decent sheet music cover image) is credited to "Donaldson," and for a long time I figured it must be Walter Donaldson.  Not.  It's Will Donaldosn, who wrote his share of hits, but who may be most famous for co-composing the 1917 ragtime number Rialto Ripples with a 16-year-old George Gershwin.  The extent to which Will did or didn't contribute to this rag number is unknown, but Will got Gershwin published.  I remember learning of this piece way back around 1978, when I was stationed in Scotland and had locally bought a book of ragtime classics.  Never got the original, which has a really cool cover (directly below).  At any rate, at that time, I was able to sight-read the piece, but my piano chops were way above where they are 42 years later.  Doubt I could sight-read it now.

Conditions vary on these, with Russian Rag (by George--Alabama Jubilee--Cobb, not Cobbs, as indicated on the original label) the most worn.  But most are average or well above.  The sort of odd but beautifully conceived Pork and Beans is by famed African American pianist Luckey Roberts, whereas the "Roberts" who gave us the famous Smiles is Lee S. Roberts, whose ragtime march Ching Chong I have on a 12-inch 78 by Prince's Band.   "Mary Earl," composer of Ruspana (a take-off on Rachmaninoff's ultra-famous Prelude in C-sharp minor) as well as Sweet Siamese, was a pseudonym for Robert A. King. Now you know.  I talked about Texas (and Texan) composer David W. Guion in a previous post--in fact, today's file is a re-rip of Texas, and hopefully one with more audio body.  Here he is at Wikipedia.

I had no idea Missouri Waltz (Missouri's official state song since 1949) had a minstrel show origin, and the composer credits on Fuller's side are a bit of a mess.  John V. Eppel (as "Eppel") is credited, though the melody was actually composed by Lee Edgar Settle.  Columbia can be forgiven for not knowing this, but the "Knight, Logan" part of its song credit is a typo--they meant Frederic Knight Logan, the man who did the sheet music arrangement, and who probably didn't use a comma between his middle and surname.  Sounds like a lot of fingers were in this pie, which is one of our many polite descriptions for white-collar theft.

I forgot to include the Graveyard Blues composer on the mp3 tag, so please don't confuse the song with the John Lee Hooker recording that bears no relation.  This 1916 number was by Clarence Woods and John S. Caldwell, and the sheet music shows us the Rector Novelty Orchestra, with Earl himself on drums.  Which is more info that the Brian Rust discography yielded:

Dig the string bass.  And I can't imagine a recording horn picking up an acoustical bass, but who knows?  Note the make-up of the orchestra--more a string band than a "proper" jazz unit, though again I suggest that "proper" has little meaning when applied to a genre still in formation.  In addition to the almost complete Columbia Fuller line-up (I'm short one 78), I have an Olympic label side (a label as cheap as it sounds): Ain't We Got Fun and Just Because.  These two required a major boost in the 1 to 2 kHz range, which is usually overkill for an acoustical 78, but not when they're as under-recorded as on these numbers.  And I included the lone non-jazz Earl Fuller's Orchestra side to be released on Victor--While the Incense Is Burning, from 1917.  This orchestra recorded a number of unreleased takes for Victor, and I wish I could hear them all, but they're long gone, I'm sure.  The Victor and Olympic sides are xylophone-less, for those of you wishing for some relief from the mallets.

Some amazing sounds here, and I hope I did some justice to them, and I hope you enjoy!  I'm offering them in two zip files of fifteen tracks apiece.  Be sure to click on both links!

DOWNLOAD: Earl Fuller, 1917-1921--Part One  Part Two

All Earl Fuller's Rector Novelty Orch., unless otherwise credited

Cold Turkey--One-step (Will Donaldson)

12th St. Rag (Bowman)
Pork and Beans (Luckey Roberts)
More Candy--One-step (Mel B. Kaufman)
Ida!  Sweet as Apple Cider (Eddie Munson)
One Fleeting Hour (John Stepan Zamecnik, as "Dorothy Lee") (12-inch)
While the Incense Is Burning (Walter Smith)--Earl Fuller's Orchestra
Castle Valse Classique (Dvorak, Arr. by Ford T. Dabney) (12-inch)
Smiles (Lee S. Roberts)
Graveyard Blues (Woods-Caldwell)
Sweet Emalina, My Gal --One-step (Creamer and Layton)
I Ain't Got Nobody Much (Graham-Williams)
Down Home Rag (Wilber C.S. Sweatman)
Mickey--Medley (Williams and Moret)
The Missouri Waltz (Lee Edgar Settle, Frederic Knight Logan, as "Knight, Logan and Eppel")
Here Comes America--Medley One-step (Jack Glogau)
Texas (David W. Guion) (12-inch)
Oriental--One-step (Vincent Rose) (12-inch)
Singapore--Medley (Gilbert and Friedland)
Out of the East--Oriental Fox Trot (Joe Rosey)
Sand Dunes--Oriental One-step (Byron Gay, Arr. Henri Klickermann)
Spaniola (Joe Rosey)
Egyptland (James. W. Casey)
Mummy Mine (Vincent Rose)
Ruspana--One-step (Robert A. King, as "Mary Earl")
Sweet Siamese (Robert A King, as "Mary Earl")
Ain't We Got Fun (Kahn-Egan-Whiting)--Earl Fuller's New York Orch. (Olympic 15116; 1921)
Just Because (Stevens-Frosini)--Same